8 Department of External Affairs to Australian Delegation, United Nations

Cablegram 274 CANBERRA, 26 April 1947


Your UN.420.

1. Terms of summons to Special Session indicate clearly that its purpose is 'constituting and instructing a special committee to prepare for consideration of the question of Palestine at the second regular Session'.

2. We are, as a matter of principle, in favour of fullest discussion at a General Assembly. It is obvious however that September meeting will be critical one. Therefore this Session should set up a committee or committees and give it or them broadest charter to deal with all matters relevant to the Palestine problem.

3. Decision of Assembly on these matters should await the receipt of the Committee's report at the General Session. There is no occasion, however, for debates at the Special Session to travel beyond preparatory investigations, therefore there is no need to instruct you, as yet, on the substance of proposals which might be put forward by Arab or other States.

4. On the question of the composition of the Commission, representatives of Jewish organisations would better be heard, not at the Special Session, but before Committee of Enquiry which should be free to take evidence from any source wishing to give it.

5. The Committee, however constituted, should have no limitations placed on its scope and should have no directions on procedure. If there is not unanimity, one or more minority reports should be referred to the General Assembly as well as the majority report.

6. On Composition, we would think it better to have Committee of 11 or 15.

The main purpose of Australian participation in a Special Session should be to secure a place on the Investigation Committee and, if we would be assured of election to a more limited committee, we would favour it.

At a special session running from 28 April to 15 May, the General Assembly established a Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP).

Australia, represented by J.D.L. Hood, was one of eleven states elected to the special committee, which was based in Geneva, but visited Palestine from 15 June to 29 July. Hood chaired a subcommittee visiting displaced person and refugee camps in Germany and Austria from 8 to 14 August. The committee reported to the General Assembly at its regular session later in the year.

[AA : A1838, TS852/19/1]